Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ummm... So what now?

Now that the semester's ended, what going to happen to our blog? I mean, technically, I'm still stuck in the soundworlds game and am doomed to think about John Cage forever -and I know I'm not the only one. And besides, if we can't blog anymore, who am I supposed to talk to about moosak and sound pollution and techno and plagiarism and mushrooms? I mean, these are important things that anyone would benefit discussing, and I don't think that just because the class has ended, we should be deprived as students of our right to ponder such essential questions and receive valuable peer feedback. And let's face it, no one else is going to know what I'm talking about when I describe a soundscape as "low fi."

P.S. Sorry I never made my mushroom cupcakes. I'll be sure to bring them to the reunion party (and then make music with the cupcake tins afterward -Tim Daisy would be proud).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm Glad We Agreed That Plagiarism Was Okay

Okay guys, apparently, we only have to write ten blog posts. I wrote eleven. If anyone wants that extra post, they can have it. This is my least favorite post this year, so if anyone wants to claim it and help themselves get to that magic ten number, feel free. Remember, if you don't get ten posts, you get an automatic F in the class [citation needed]. And we don't want that to happen, do we?

Bidding starts at $6.99. Buy-it-now price is 14.99.

A Parting Word or Two From John Milton Cage

The following stories are random draws from Cage's work Indeterminacy:

My grandmother was sometimes very deaf and at other times, particularly when someone was talking about her, not deaf at all. One Sunday she was sitting in the living room directly in front of the radio. She had a sermon turned on so loud that it could be heard for blocks around. And yet she was sound asleep and snoring. I tiptoed into the living room, hoping to get a manuscript that was on the piano and to get out again without waking her up. I almost did it. But just as I got to the door, the radio went off and Grandmother spoke sharply: “John, are you ready for the second coming of the Lord?”

I was arguing with Mother. I turned to Dad. He spoke. “Son John, your mother is always right, even when she’s wrong.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

introspective retrospective


While I’m on the subject… if all plagiarism is cool… then I’m going to shamelessly steal from all of you…

So I guess I might just reflect on the FYS coarse like Daniel.
So I came into the class kinda feeling robbed, but after the first few classes I realized it was all for the best. One reason was the John Cage intrigued me, techno became involved in our class, and all in the class are pretty funny

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-roll pop?

I'll admit, I hadn't really noticed it until this week, but we are truly a stimulus-addicted society. Thinking about it now, it just seems weird to play music while you're grocery shopping (maybe it's just me). You're stuck in an elevator for, what, two seconds, and they play you music. You're put on hold and they play you music over the telephone. It seems that they try to catch you in a situation you can't escape and pump out noise at you. we "plug ourselves in".

It is true that saying “like” all the time may make you sound like a “valley girl” or immature, but have you ever stopped to think about why and how that word has infiltrated our language and conversation. The word “like” is a filler – it’s used to fill those uncomfortable pauses of silence that inevitably happen in everyday conversing. We as a society have become so dependent on having a constant noise

While I recognize that music, for the most part, is about evoking emotion, I don't think we should limit music to only emotions. For these reasons, I think all forms of art, including music, are not defined by whether they evoke emotions or not. Art makes us wonder, makes us think how or why something is the way it is. Cage's music, though occasionally composed with purposelessness, is still music. As long as it generates some sort of reaction, a form of thought, from its listeners, it can be considered art in my opinion.

However, I do agree that, without having had the chance to develop personal preferences, this exposure to different types of music is rather irrelevant. If you don't have preferences to begin with, putting the i pod on shuffle doesn't mean anything.
"I believe the matter of music to be central to that of the meanings of man, of man's access to or abstention from metaphysical experience. Our capacities to compose and to respond to musical form and sense directly implicate the mystery of the human condition. To ask 'what is music?' may well be one way of asking 'what is man?'"

And so, I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not the end of the world. Noise has always been there and always will be. Silence isn't always golden (Sometimes it might be green or blue or red), though it often is. My point is, even though using sound as a weapon scares me, and even though I may not like all the "noise" created by new technology, I think we have bigger problems to deal with.

That isn't to say that you should totally give up your independent thought or opinion, but just merely accept that not every sound you hear you will like, and that the sounds/music that you like is not, nor will it ever be, totally the same as someone else's. So please.....relax.

"My deepest desire regarding contemporary music is to hear it all. Not successively, but all at once, at the same time. Everything together! But perhaps that's a perverse wish... Who knows if we'll do it even when we have the necessary technology? That technology doesn't exist yet? Well, long live the technology to come!

And it kinda seems like I wrote an awful lot, but this didn't really take me that long--like five minutes. I wouldn't like you all to think that I don't have anything better to do than write this, even though I don't.

--B.J.J.J. (Blog Jockey JJ)

meaning in shuffle?


I don’t usually think of myself as a superstitious person. In fact, I’m one of those people who make fun of stupid superstitions. You know, the people who just have to forward every single chain letter/text/ myspace/facebook message because they really believe something bad will happen to them if they do it. You think the mad axe murderer has so little to do that he is actually going to be under your bed because you didn’t forward it to enough people, really really? Or the people who will NEVER drink pop and pop rocks together because they truly believe it will make their stomach explode, really REALLY? (And I totally agree with Daniel, everyone should be able to plagiarize anything Jimmy does and/or says J).
But, when we talked in class about the iPod shuffle thing and whether or not it really was random, or whether people think it’s not random because they want to find meaning, I forced myself to think of all the places I look for meaning. I definitely do it when I put my iPod on shuffle. I will even go so far as to make decisions based on what my iPod shuffle tells me. And yes, I do even feel like it tells me things that I need to hear. OK, now you’re thinking that I am not only as superstitious and/or stupid as the chain letter person, but also possibly that I have serious mental problems. Fair enough. But maybe it is just part of human nature—to look for meaning in things. I want to believe that things have meaning. I mean, I am an English major so I should have known that I do believe that things having meanings. Otherwise how could I possibly be majoring in a subject known for doing just that? Finding meaning through symbols and themes. Even though, again, I don’t see myself as superstitious, (Well, actually, I’m starting to think that I’m super-superstitious but…) I do like to find meanings in everyday life: Well, that text didn’t send right away.. it’s a sign that I wasn’t supposed to send it. And, now that I think about it, isn’t religion just trying to find meaning in life? I have come to the conclusion that it’s only naturally human to find meaning in everyday life. And I think that this is different from being superstitious. Superstitions just don’t make sense. …. But my iPod does talk to me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today my mom was watching some movie about people meeting each other online, and I was tired of studying and sat down and begged to know what was going on. Almost immediately after I started watching it, in the course of these two people trying to talk to each other without revealing any personal facts about their lives, I Ching was mentioned.

After briefly considering how likely it was that John Cage wrote the script, I started wondering exactly how much of yourself you can keep out of your work or hobbies, and though we have talked about this in class it is still very much open to debate. Until the day we discussed how I Ching itself worked, I thought Cage simply assigned a note to each number and wrote down whatever got thrown. To learn that he had to interpret each symbol throws a new light on the matter. Exactly how personal can an interpretation be? We project our own experiences, our emotions, our opinions on anything we view, as much as we may try to be objective in a matter. The way we interpret a story relies on how we visualize the story and how it plays out.

Take, for example, "The Lady or the Tiger." For anybody who hasn't read the story, I don't remember it exactly, but in the end a man is put in an arena with two doors to choose from. Behind one door is a woman who will be forced to marry him if he chooses her door. Behind the other, a hungry tiger is waiting to maul him. His lover is in the crowd and knows what is behind each door. She indicates which door he should choose and he picks it. The end. We don't find out what was behind the door he chose; its up to the reader to decide. Will his lover watch him marry another woman, or would she rather see him die? There equal evidence in each direction, waiting to be interpreted to support one cause or the other. It all depends on how the reader interprets, and since there are no clues, this leads to the individual relying on his or her own experience and personality. What would you do? Cage doesn't pose us with moral dilemmas, and this story can't be determined by chance operations as it is designed to prove that our opinions influence the way we understand things.

Certainly, then, Cage's understanding of the I Ching was influenced by his preferences in at least a minimal way. It seems to be impossible to leave himself out of his work, if only that his philosophy of staying independant from the composition shines so brightly through to the music. This definite and supposedly strict guidelines he imposes on his compositions give a stronger character to his works than many pieces composed by artists trying to put themselves in their music. His music is almost immediately recognized by anyone with an interest in experimental music. Wouldn't that mean that he is strongly present in his music, rather than removed from it? Even more than his philosophy behind the music, it would stand to reason that by interpreting the I Ching, he put some degree of his own opinions into the notes in the composition.

Friday, December 5, 2008

So its like 2 in the morning and I'm bored out of my mind cause I'm wide awake, all my roommates are sleeping, and there is absolutely nothing on TV except for "A Chance at Love" which is a spin off of a spin off of a terribly overly dramtic show so I'll pass. Oh and I ran out of things to clean on my car, the entire engine bay is spotless though : ) so why not blog.

So I guess I might just reflect on the FYS coarse like Daniel. I too did would not have picked this class. In all actually I didn't relize we had to take this class, I even signed up for a different FYS and meet with him when I got my class schedule way back in may. What FYS did I sign up for you ask, wait drum roll (you''ll never guess) ........................................................................................ the automotive class (there wasn't a techno one). So I was all excited to be taking a class where I got to talk about cars the whole time with other people who might also love cars as much as me. I was super excited real talk, but once I meet the instructor and waited over an hour for him to find my schedule, which he never had, I found out that I wasn't in the class at all instead I was in the Honors seminar. Now I was pretty let down after that, I don't get to take a class just on cars really, really?

So I came into the class kinda feeling robbed, but after the first few classes I realized it was all for the best. One reason was the John Cage intrigued me, techno became involved in our class, and all in the class are pretty funny. I also found out the automotive class did very little car preformance talk but rather a lot of economics and social customs created by cars. So I would have had to sit in that class and not talk about or look at sexy 67' Shelby GT500 Mustangs or badass '69 Dodge Chargers with a Hemi, or a gorgeous '71 Chevelle SS with a 454 cu inch beast under the hood. No all these wonderful things would not be part of the class, and it would have been the worst torture imaginable to be in a car class and not discuss these important topics. Thats worse than drowning a kitten in my book.

So any way back to the FYS class. We learned a lot John Cage and got to hear some unique music and see some very unique characters like Sun Ra. We had a couple entire classes devoted to techno, which is almost as good as cars. The Vox Arcana was pretty sweet, I really liked Tim Daisy's drum preformance it was very Cage but still sounded good. Angelle got me and appartently Daniel as well completely hooked on Apocolyptica. Oh and I got to hear all of Daniel's humor, I laughed so hard so many times, he is easily the funniest person in the class. The heated dicussions over why Edward isn't a real vampire because he sparkles, which is a fact not just my opinion. And i can't forget the awesome movie Angelle, Jenna, JJ and me made, that was a blast. There are already rumors of Golden Globes and MTV Movie Awards nominations, and from what I hear Daniel has the best cameo award on lock. I will alays remeber a story from silence, the one with the dude on the hill with all the guys asking him why he is standing there and he simply says, "I just stand." That was funny but also pretty deep and kinda sums up how I try to live my life. I don't worry about what people think about me I just do random crazy things that I make me happy. Someone will always ask you why, like "why did you get your nipples pierced?" I enjoy asking back "why not?" To which most poeple respond, "cause thats crazy" To which I answer "Yep and thats the way I like it"

I havehad a blast in this class in so many ways, so I'd like give this FYS a perfect score of 5 mushrooms, 4 glowsticks, 3 members of Vox Arcana, 2 Daniels jokes, and 1 girly sparkling POSER vampire (cough cough Edward is a loserface cough cough) out of a pinneapple
Why a pinneapple you ask?
"I just stand"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I must say, the video today was quite comedic; and although I'd rather not admit it, (Jimmy and I have been arguing about who's project will be better) I thought it was pretty funny and liked it a lot. I know how much Jimmy loves his car, so that part was especially funny. I've never seen Concord of the (Insert last word here)--sorry I don't remember what it's called, so that part didn't really make sense to me. However, the song was quite funny. I definitely enjoyed that too. Daniel's appearance was a splendid surprise. I'm pretty sure he deserves some extra credit for his hard work on TWO PROJECTS. (cough cough dr langguth cough cough)

I was thinking about the turn table presentation the other day. It reminded me of dances and class get togethers that some of my friends would DJ. I would walk over to say "Hi" and be amazed by all the technology involved (I'm a bit technolically retarded). I even helped them break everything down once, and I honestly have NO IDEA how DJs can keep all those cords and everything straight. It was sooo confusing, even for the easy stuff they had me do. Random, I know, but I was thinking about it and it just reminded me of when I helped them break everything down. It definitely gave me a whole new respect for them. That's some confusing stuff, let me tell you.

I don't want to compete with the length of Daniel's blog, so I think I'll cut it off now.

Note to Jimmy: Our project will still be pretty sweet. =]

An Introspective Retrospective on this FYS

Alright, this is the final blog post of the year, unless we have to do way more than I think we do. So I thought that I should do a little retrospective on the semester, because it seems like it made sense and anyway I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. Except to say that the video today was pretty awesome—almost as good as my project. I thought the voiceover work was particularly impressive. Anyway, good job everyone, and I’m sure that the rest of the presentations will be equally good if the presenters ever find time to do them.

Anyway, as to the whole retrospective thing, I don’t think that it’s exactly going to blindside anyone when I say that there is no way I would have chosen to take this course—I basically thought that John Cage is useless. And it’s not like I didn’t give him a chance—I downloaded Cheap Imitation to see what I was getting into. I listened the first thirty seconds, thought it was pretty awful, skipped to the middle to see if it’d get any better, which is didn’t, then turned it off while swearing eternal hatred of John Cage. Or maybe it was merely mild dislike.

I originally thought that John Cage was useless. However, after weeks of classroom discussions, dozens of readings (or was it? Maybe it was just one dozens), and fifteen weeks of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that, well, John Cage is still useless.

That doesn’t mean that I’m sorry I took the course though—on the contrary, I’m glad I did. For one thing, if I hadn’t, that’d mean I wasn’t an Honors student and would have to pay for my education. (Does anyone else think it’s pretty stupid that Honors students have to pay a technology fee? I mean, technology at TMC is dreadful—it takes forever to log into any TMC computer. And the wireless Internet isn’t anything to write home about. And I’m paying three hundred dollars for that? That should be changed). But as I was saying, Honors=good, and I’d have taken pretty much any course for all that money, even if it was something like “Kitten Drowning 101.”

Not that I’m comparing this FYS to killing kittens, that sort of came out wrong. I honestly think that this class (unlike Cage) was useful. (And I’m not just saying that to get an A, although I would if I had to). I really don’t like the way “classical” (for want of a better word) music has gone in the 20th century, but it’s still good to know about. It’s like learning about Nazis in history—you might not like what happened, but it’s still important to know.

Now I just compared this FYS to Nazis— maybe that wasn’t the best example. It’s more like, I don’t know, reading about how the Yankees won like five straight World Series in Fifties—I don’t like the Yankees, but I’m still interested in learning about them. Maybe that’s better.

And I’ve got to say it’s interesting how Cage inspired so many other artists. I always kinda figured he was just sort of in his ivory tower composing his little avant-garde pieces, and it turns out he seems to have inspired every other musician out there.

And I’m glad to have gotten the chance to see Vox Arcana. To be honest, I didn’t expect much—but I enjoyed their performances much more than I thought I would—in fact, I hardly booed at all. Seriously, though, I did enjoy their work—I’m probably not going to rush out and buy some, but if I’m ever in Chicago or whatever and everyone’s like “hey, let’s go listen to some avant-garde jazz”, Vox Arcana will definitely be at the top of my list.

Oh, and thanks to this class, I discovered Apocolyptica, which I probably misspelled, but I like their music.

Oh, and I won Soundworlds without cheating hardly at all.

And the in-class discussions were pretty interesting. I mean, they should have been—we’re kind of the smart FYS, let’s face it, and it’s hard to get an interesting discussion going in Stats or Accounting, and the people in my Economics and Intro to Business classes are quite frankly rather stupid and boring for the most part. But still, I enjoyed the in-class discussions, and thought they added a lot to the class.

But we should have done more sound mapping.

By the way, this didn’t take me all that long to write, just so you all don’t think I spent like an hour on this, because this is a bit on the long side.

So, final grade for this class: five John Cage mushrooms =} =} =} =} =}. (Okay, that’s basically blatant plagiarism, mushrooms were Jimmy's idea, but didn’t we agree that plagiarism wasn’t a bad thing? And anyway, you can’t improve on perfection, which is what the whole mushroom thing is). Unless I don’t get an A, in which case it maybe gets one.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

To get away from personal tastes, you must first have them

Just wanted to comment on the point that Dr. Lannguth brought up in class regarding our "sonic democracy." With the advent of the i pod and downloadable music, people are listening more and more to a wide variety of artists and genres, and this is a good thing, I think. Exposure is a good thing. There are even cell phone programs you can sign up for where the company will send you a random bunch of songs every so often, regardless of what you say you like. However, I do agree that, without having had the chance to develop personal preferences, this exposure to different types of music is rather irrelevant. If you don't have preferences to begin with, putting the i pod on shuffle doesn't mean anything. Knowing what you like and then intentional choosing something else is what Cage was all about. Had he taken an apathetic view towards sound and music, his own compositions wouldn't have meant much.
I experienced the importance of a developed personal preference when I choreographed and performed my dance for the last project. To be perfectly honest, I hated it. It was awkward and irregular and confusing, but the point is that I felt something. If I had no preference in dance style or technique at all, doing that dance would have been just like doing any other kind of dance, but because I knew what I liked (and consequently learned what I didn't) doing that Cage-inspired dance meant something. Hating it is much better than being apathetic, and I think that's the problem with a "society on shuffle." No one has developed personal preferences to begin with, no one takes the time to become interested and involved with any particular genre of music, and so the sharing that occurs means much less and the experience of "exposure" carries much less weight.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I've been meaning to get on here for quite some time now and post a blog. But somehow I always manage to get sidetracked. It's been a really long time, so I'll probably touch on a few older ideas or things that happened a while ago in class.

Firstly, I'd like to comment on the reactions of our peers to Tim Daisy's Vox Arcana. I thought it was very rude of some of them to snicker, laugh at and mock the group while they were performing. Even after the performance in some of my classes when the teachers asked students what they thought of the music, people were saying it was horrible and the worst thing they had ever heard. I was personally offended at first. However, after thinking about it for a while I understood where they were coming from. I remembered the first time I had heard experimental music. I had judged it just as they had. However, I was quiet about my judgements and decided to give it a chance. I learned about it and actually came to like it and appreciate it for the artform it is. Vocally putting down what someone does is just plain rude in my opinion. I think they could have kept their thoughts to themselves. I sure hope the members of Vox Arcana didn't hear them, it's very disrespectful and shows Thomas More in a bad light.

Okay, I'm done ranting about that. This blog WAS a bit longer, but I spilled hot cocoa all over my laptop and it shut off so I had to come up to the student center to rewrite it and didn't feel like typing it all again. yay. hahah...

P.S. The red font was for AIDS awareness, which was Monday (when this post was actually started) it's Tuesday. I needed a fun color and I kept seeing red everywhere so I decided to use it. =]

I really enjoyed Mark's and Daniel's projetcs today, though they both seemed to start with the same idea their final projects were pretty different. Mark's seemed to flow pretty smoothly and had a large amount indterminacy because he used his whole musical library. I also really enjoyed all the artists he played, they were all great bands. I haven't heard Creed in like 3 years and it was nice to hear them again. So based on hs smooth transitions, delightful music selection (even though he had no control over it), and the large potential of variability I would like to give Mark's final 4 out of 5 John Cage Mushrooms.
=} =} =} =} (those are supposed to be mushrooms, about as close as I could get anyway)

Daniel's project took a different approach. Daniel hand picked 50 songs which all had equal chance of appearing in the final project, but only 15 would make the cut. As you would assume the competition was fierce with lots of back stabbing and double crossing by some songs, especially Mozart, to ensure they would make it through the eliminations. Ok thats not really true but I enjoy the dramatic effect. While Daniels hand picked his 50 songs he went beyond his own personal tastes to included artists; such as Sun Ra, Bob Dillion, and the G man himself John Cage; he really does not like and really kinda hates on the list. So while his list was shorter, Daniel went beyond his personal tastes, which is very Cagian, and he posted it up on the blog so thats good for some bonus pionts cough cough Dr Langguth cough cough. So for that I give Daniel's final 4.5 out 5 John Cage Mushrooms.
=} =} =} =} = (notice the half mushroom)

Finally I want to give anyone how is out on the blog tonight/tommorrow a slight sneak peak of Angelle, Jenna, JJ, and my final project. It has techno, I know I'm sure your both stunned and excited (I mean me and techno who would have guessed?), and covers a lot of the random discussions we have had in class, and then there is just some other randomness thrown in. I don't know if anyone has read Kurt Vonnegutt, but if you have our thought process for the film was a lot like his writing style, any random thought was used and ellaborated to its maximum. So I'm not trying hype it up but I'm going to pre-emptively give our final project 6 out of 5 John Cage Mushrooms cause its probably the funniest short film ever, atleast to me it is, and I'm the critic here so I'll do what I want.
=} =} =} =} =} =} Real Talk

P.S. John Cage is a G

Putting In My "Two Cents"

This topic of whether or not music should be influenced by personal preference has been going on since the very start of this class. I thought I’d put in my “two cents” for the last time on this endless discussion topic. In life, almost all human actions have a subconscious level of personal preference to them. From when they’re little, people choose to be right-handed or left-handed because they have more control in one hand and would rather use that one. More people are outside on sunny days than rainy days because being dry is preferable to being wet. Many people marry because they would rather have a life-long companion than live a lonely life.

Often times humans do things in life because of their own personal choices, but remain unaware of this. How is music any different? When I am driving I automatically flip the station to something I want to hear, sometimes without even realizing what I’m doing – almost as if my body is programmed to fulfill my desires. So in music, why would a person want to entirely separate personal relations from the music. A human cannot be complete without a soul, how can music be complete without some form of connection between the artist and his masterpiece? When the artist adds his feelings into his music, he gives life to the “soul” of his work.

Naturally people have always been drawn to the idea of finding a purpose or reason for everything in life. Buddha spent years of his life to discover why there is suffering in this world. John Cage appreciated the Buddhist beliefs, and yet the core of that religion results in a man looking for a purpose – a connection in life. That is what the listener does when he hears music. He looks for that relationship in which he can find understanding and be able to develop some form of attachment with the artist and his music. Music must contain personal additions because without them, there is no purpose as to why someone should listen to it.